Soldaterlegatet, an independent private fund, has commissioned the Danish National Centre for Social Research to investigate what happens when soldiers are deployed on international missions. One of the aims of the project is to evaluate how the mental and physical health of the soldiers is affected. Another focus is how the soldiers´ education and job situation evolves after they return to Denmark.
The research project collects administrative records from many different sources before, during and after the soldiers are deployed. These sources include the Danish Defence, and Statistics Denmark. In Denmark, from birth or from the date they immigrate, every person is issued a unique personal code called a CPR number (Central Personal Register). This code is used every time a person is in contact with a public body. All this information is saved by Statistics Denmark and merged with other data. All individuals are followed until they either die or emmigrate. This CPR number makes it possible to follow an individual’s education, civil status, job history, medical history and criminal records for example. In the research project this data is being supplemented by an extensive questionnaire survey involving soldiers currently serving abroad as well as those previously on deployment.
The analysis has defined a reliable control group to ensure that the consequences observed for the soldiers are actually linked to the conditions under their deployment and would not have happened anyway, even if they had not been deployed on an international mission. These results will be published in 2011.
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A qualitative interview study, which forms part of the project, was released in September 2010. This study is a 360-degree approach on how the soldiers and their relatives experience deployment on international missions and on the type of support they request. In all 44 soldiers and relatives, as well as representatives from the Danish Defence and the public system were interviewed.
The study identifies a number of general issues about how the system copes with the challenges of the soldiers and their relatives. These include challenges involving personnel with physical injuries, who still experience barriers in their contact with the public system such as waiting lists for disabled housing. Moreover, personnel returning to Denmark need help to adjust to civilian life; and the identification of soldiers returning with potential psychological injuries is incomplete in some areas. It is up to the soldiers themselves to look for help, meaning that some soldiers may encounter severe problems and get lost in the system.
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Further information about the interview study, contact project manager Stephanie Lyk-Jensen, senior researcher, firstname.lastname@example.org or researcher Jens Kofod email@example.com